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Philanthropy

The Emotions of Aid

“One death is a tragedy; 1 million is a statistic,” Joseph Stalin is supposed to have said. The more people we see suffering, the less we care.

 

“One death is a tragedy; 1 million is a statistic,” Joseph Stalin is supposed to have said. The more people we see suffering, the less we care. It’s an unfortunate quirk that psychologists so far have blamed on our brains: Humans are tuned to individuals, the thinking goes; we are just not capable of feeling compassion for whole groups.

A new study calls that comfortable conclusion into question. “The collapse of compassion is an active process,” says Daryl Cameron, a doctoral candidate in...


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